Since debuting in 2016, Stranger Things has become a bona fide global hit. Over the first three seasons, the show became one of Netflix’s tentpole properties, helping the company to not just sell monthly subscriptions but also licensed merchandise such as clothes, action figures, and book bags. And indeed, that fan obsession created a third-party industry of podcasts, YouTube videos, and Reddit threads – each dedicated to dissecting the characters and lore of the Stranger Things universe.

The Long Wait for Season Four

For the first few years, Stranger Things episodes came along at a reasonably steady clip. Season two arrived in October 2017, and the third landed in July 2019. Then, nothing. For a while, at least.

In February this year, the creators of the show Matt and Ross Duffer (aka the Duffer brothers) broke cover, revealing that season four was indeed on its way. They also explained that they would split it into two volumes, with a brief break in the middle. And in a final coda, they let fans know that season four of Stranger Things would be the penultimate, building up to a season five finale.

Preparing for The End

With the news that Stranger Things was ending, the show’s fanbase went into overdrive. A slew of fan theories spread across the web, covering everything from when the next season would appear to just who might not make it to the end. And throughout it all, the Duffer brothers maintained their stoicism about what audiences could expect, conscious of not ruining any surprises that lay ahead.

However, with Stranger Things followers starved of any new content for so many years, it’s perhaps inevitable that plot details would somehow get out.

Season 4 Turned Upside Down Due to a Content Leak

In April, just weeks before the arrival of season four, volume one, a curious thing happened: a themed Stranger Things Monopoly board game somehow made its way into the world. And, as the internet would quickly come to learn, it featured a lot of spoilers for all the episodes that, at that point, had been such a well-guarded secret. 

Needless to say, many fans who were looking forward to enjoying the surprises as the show’s creators had intended found those moments ruined as they ran into spoiler after spoiler, peppered across the web.

Total Meltdown

According to sources for The Hollywood Reporter, the Duffers had a “total meltdown” when they learned of the breach. The situation seems to have been made worse because the brothers reportedly had no involvement in the game or its contents. An insider for The Hollywood Reporter notes the Duffer brothers are usually consulted on branding arrangements, but suggests Stranger Things licensing operates on such a vast scale that it’s not always possible for them to sign off on everything connected to the show.

Nonetheless, information about the season got out before it was supposed to, and it’s not entirely clear who is to blame. As numerous Redditors have discussed, the Stranger Things branded Monopoly game was purchased from “a nationally recognized retailer,” making it possible that the leak was an unintended consequence of employee error.

Still, while a small slip-up at a store wouldn’t normally be big news, the fact it was related to Stranger Things means it didn’t take long for those story secrets to become a very, very big deal when posted to the web.

Toys are Often the Source of Entertainment Content Leaks

As devastating as the breach was to both the Duffer brothers and Stranger Things fans, it’s far from the first time that spoilers have emanated from the toy world. From Jurassic World to Star Wars, tie-in products have long provided inadvertent story clues that echo across fandoms. 

But it’s not necessarily the fault of toy-makers or retailers – it’s simply a built-in risk of the product-licensing industry. After all, toy companies have to mass-produce and distribute their products in time for the big release, otherwise they’d show up long after the hype-train has passed. Unfortunately, someone’s always going to mess up, and sadly for the creators and the fans, there will always be somebody else ready to jump on that mistake.

Find Content Leaks Before your Fans do with SignalAlert

It’s for moments such as this that iThreat exists. With our SignalAlert system, your company can monitor all dimensions of the internet, scouring for information that shouldn’t be out in the world. And should your business find such any such data, we can provide investigatory assistance, helping you get to the bottom of the mystery as quickly as possible. After all, preventing unnecessary spoilers is something we can all be a fan of.

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